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Republicans’ shutdown assessment: ‘We lost’

"Republicans’ shutdown assessment: ‘We lost’" Continued...

Huelskamp said those lawmakers “continue to divide the Republican Party between out-of-touch Washington insiders and the average Americans who actually live conservative principles every day.”

Conservative Republicans now are focusing on the 2014 congressional elections. After all, President Barack Obama, in his first extended remarks after the shutdown, told all “my friends in Congress … you don’t like a particular policy … go out there and win an election.” Republicans’ top priority is gaining control of the Senate. A group of conservative lawmakers at a Wednesday afternoon event dismissed the idea that the shutdown and the GOP’s current low approval numbers might hurt the party in 2014. Labrador said the shutdown “showed the American people we are willing to fight.”

Huelskamp, who said standing up for what’s right is more important than what happens in the next election, argued that while conservatives did lose this battle, “if you go outside the Beltway … we are winning the war.” Huelskamp hopes that some moderate Republicans in Congress will face primary challengers that might encourage the incumbent lawmakers to “have some more backbone.” National Tea Party groups and conservative think tanks opposed to the deal have said they may refrain from supporting Republican lawmakers who voted for it.

But before the next congressional elections Congress will have more fiscal fights. The agreement approved Wednesday night only keeps the government funded until Jan. 15, while the debt ceiling will again be reached by Feb. 7. By then, conservatives hope the public will be more frustrated with Obamacare after its clunky rollout.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., in the meeting of House Republicans on Wednesday afternoon, urged his fellow lawmakers to focus on what they agree on: Obamacare is bad, taxes are too high, spending is out of control, and Washington policies are impeding job growth.

“We must not confuse tactics with principles,” he said. “We can do more for the American people united.”

Those principles are why many congressional conservatives said they had no regrets about the fight, even if it led to few immediate gains.

Sen. Mike Lee, a Tea Party Republican from Utah and a top Cruz ally, said, “It’s always worth it to do the right thing.” Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., said, “It's not over. This is round one.”

Huelskamp recalled Ronald Reagan’s tough stance against the Soviet Union and how those in his own party even urged him to soften his position: “Waving the white flag of surrender is never going to work, politically and policy-wise, whether it’s in front of the Berlin wall or sitting here today in Washington, D.C.”

Added Mulvaney, “If folks think we’re done fighting about spending, debts, deficit, Obamacare, religious liberties, and equal protection, they’re wrong.”

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee is WORLD's Washington Bureau chief. As a reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, he was embedded with a National Guard unit in Iraq. He also once worked in the press office of Sen. Lamar Alexander.

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